Madison County commissioners voted Monday night to send a controversial rezoning request back to the planning and zoning commission for further review and to possibly recommend additional conditions on the request.

Zachery Hightower wants to rezone his 3.53 acres property on Neese Commerce Road from A-1 (intensive agriculture) to B (business) in order to expand his poultry house spraying business.

The property was grandfathered in for business use before zoning laws were adopted in the county and an older business previously operated there. Hightower currently runs his poultry house spraying business on that grandfathered status, but wants to expand the business with more area and more buildings.

The planning and zoning commission narrowly approved a recommendation of the rezoning on a 4-3 vote, with the conditions that Hightower place fencing and landscaping around the property to appease neighboring property owners.

County commissioners expressed concerned that the rezoning was a classic example of “spot zoning” and were not convinced the business was actually an ag-related business, as it does not produce a product from farming, but rather stores and distributes chemicals to spray in chicken houses before birds are placed.

Planning and zoning administrator Linda Fortson said the P&Z commission is currently working on a new agribusiness designation which this business might qualify for, but that it will likely be months before the commission is ready to present such a designation to the BOC for approval.

Several neighboring property owners told the BOC they were not in favor of the business, saying that its operation has already caused disruption in their neighborhood, pointing out that large tractor trailers are coming and going on the narrow and winding Neese Commerce Road, that they are concerned about the chemicals being housed onsite and that debris is blown off dump trucks onto their property. They were also concerned about the spraying down of trucks on the property and they do not feel that fencing will do much to improve the appearance of the property in the rural area.

Neighbor Lyn Hix told the board that he feels such a business would be much better suited along a major thoroughfare, such as Hwy. 98, rather than along their county road.

Hightower, who was present for the rezoning request, did not speak during the public hearing portion of the meeting, but was allowed to answer commissioners’ questions during the discussion portion of the request. In response to Commissioner Danny Adams’ question about paving the property, Hightower said he planned to pave the entrances, but not the entire property and said that he only used the wash down area to clean the exterior of his trucks and that no tanks or other chemical-related equipment was being washed out on the property.

The planning commission will now meet with Hightower again at its next business meeting and bring the request back to the BOC in July for reconsideration. They will likely recommend additional conditions such as a definition of what is being done on the premises, a plan for additional structures, what entrances/exits there will be and what the hours of operation will be.

There were 13 other planning and zoning requests heard by the BOC Monday night, all receiving unanimous approval by commissioners. They were:

•A request by Susan and Michael Holcomb to rezone their 4.09-acre property on Spratlin Mill Road from A-2 (agricultural) to R-R (rural residential) to subdivide two acres of it for their daughter.

•A request by Joel Pellegrino to rezone 8.56 acres of his Hwy. 98 West property from A-1 to R-R to subdivide it for a home site for his daughter.

•A request by Shama Mack to rezone her 4.8-acre Shoal Creek Road property from A-1 to R-R to subdivide two acres for a home site for her daughter.

•A request by Diane Caudell to rezone her 5-acre property from A-1 to R-R to subdivide two acres for her daughter for a home site.

•A request by Catherine Wilkes to rezone her 12.63-acre from Martin-Griffeth Road from A-1 to R-R to subdivide the three homes located on the property.

•A request by Bobby McConnell to rezone his 5.1-acre lot on David’s Home Church Road from A-1 to R-R to subdivide two acres for sale.

•A request by Michael Price, representing the estate of Barbara Price, to rezone his 11.25-acre tract on Brickyard Road from A-1 to R-R so it can be divided into three parcels.

•A request by Tyson McElroy, representing his father Buddy McElroy, to rezone two acres of a 7.11-acre parcel on Aderhold Rogers Road from A-2 to R-R to allow for a home site for Tyson.

•A request by Janet Williams to rezone two acres of her 18.4-acre property on Moons Grove Church Road from A-1 to R-R for a home site for her daughter.

•A request by Bree Foster to rezone her 5.63-acre tract on Shoal Creek Road from R-3 to A-2. Foster said the surrounding property is all A-2 and her son and ex-husband want the property rezoned so they can raise chickens there.

•A request by Kathy Stamps to rezone her 3.08-acre tract on Rogers Mill Road from A2 to R1 in order to give her son 1.5 acres for a home site.

•A request by Josh Arrandale, representing his father Stephen Arrandale, to rezone 3.15 acres on Hardman Morris Road from A2 to Re to allow for a home site for Josh.

•A request by Sara and Herman Cutshall to rezone two acres of their 12-acre Dove Drake Road property from A2 to RR for a home for Sara.

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